In the past 25 years, Woolstar has set the benchmark for sustainable Australian wool products, and it’s not gone unnoticed. The brand now exports its range of quilts, pillows, blankets and accessories globally - with every single product fully traceable back to the farm where the fibres came from.
Woolstar is the brainchild of Graeme Kerr, who left his career in business consulting in his late 40s with a dream to become a major exporter of a quality Australian product. What that product was, he had no idea.
Then, one day, he heard about a surplus of wool in a warehouse in Sydney. Despite having never worked with wool before, Graeme knew this was an opportunity not to be missed.
“I knew that Asia loves all things Australian, as well as anything wool,” he explains. “So I made a few samples and went from there.”
Today, Woolstar continues to export most of its products to Asia, but also Russia, the UK, Europe, and - most recently - a major US retailer.
BECOMING A WORLD-LEADER IN SUSTAINABLE WOOL
From that very first fateful moment, Woolstar has focused on innovation, quality, and sustainability. Every product is free from harmful chemicals and the brand’s Farm2Shelf concept allows consumers to trace the origins of their products.
“So many competitors seem like they’re Aussie produced and made,” says Graeme. “But they’re actually made overseas. We wanted to make sure there was traceability. We wanted to show that our products are real.”
One thing is for sure. This is about more than just marketing. The Farm2Shelf concept means that there is no room to hide across the entire lifecycle of the product.
The farmers themselves endorse the product and have become integral to Woolstar’s success. It’s certainly a step-change from when farmers sell to brokers, with no idea where their product ends up.
“If a farmer knows what their wool is being used for they’re super excited and want to know more,” says Graeme. “It becomes about more than just growing wool. They’re part of the story.”
The Farm2Shelf concept is a milestone on what Graeme refers to as the brand's ongoing sustainability journey.
“Wool is inherently more sustainable than other fibres,” he says. “It returns to the earth in six months. But there’s more to do such as other elements of the product, packaging, recycling, and transport.”
THE FUTURE IS GREEN - AT HOME AND ABROAD
Whilst Graeme is proud of Woolstar’s past, his focus is solidly on the future. Sustainability remains the core focus, with increasing interest in quality, ethical wool products at home and abroad proving that Woolstar won't be slowing down anytime soon.
“It’s always confused me why Australian Made products are in greater demand overseas rather than at home,” observes Graeme. “But we’re now getting more orders from Australian retailers and consumers who want to buy products that are good for the environment and good for their health.”
Graeme equates some of this home-grown interest to COVID, which he believes has given Australians an epiphany about buying local.
To cope with this growth, Woolstar is currently investing in new machinery which will increase the company’s output by up to five times whilst also minimising waste by recycling fibres directly back into the products.
But the biggest focus for the future is the farmers - and of course, their sheep - who form the backbone of everything that Woolstar does.
“We want to solidify existing relationships and develop even more with Australian farmers across the country,” says Graeme. “We want them involved in our product and in our story and to grow at the same time as we do.”
If the past 25 years is anything to go by, one thing is for sure. Whatever Graeme and his team put their minds to, there is no doubt that they will make it happen.